Your Aging Pet
Did you know that veterinarians consider dogs or cats to be middle-aged when they are five to seven years old, and that after that, they are "senior" pets? For large breed dogs, middle age may be about four or five.
Even though their aging processes are accelerated, pets can live healthy lives into old age. But owners must be aware that, like humans, cats and dogs are prone to diseases of the elderly: arthritis, diabetes, eye and dental problems.
But there are ways to ensure that pets age in a healthy way, according to veterinarians. Some guidelines:
- After age six or seven, get regular blood work and urine tests to screen for potential problems.
- Ask if your pet should also have EKGs to check heart function, blood pressure checks or X-rays as part of annual exams.
- Ask if you should change your pet's diet to accommodate body changes due to aging.
- Get dental check ups for your cat or dog, before aging begins. Keep up the routine as your pet gets older.
- Stay active. Just as with people, aging may lead to a sedentary lifestyle.
Read more about it:
Here are Web links for more information to help you keep manage your pet's senior years:
- Routine care for early detection of health problems in aging pets, an article from Kansas Sate University's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, which started a senior pet care program to help owners know and identify changes in their animals as they age.
- Health care for older pets, from the AVMA.
- Pets suffer from effects of aging, an article from Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Spotting arthritis in dogs, from the Arthritis Foundation.
- The Baker Institute at Cornell offers a brochure on hip dysplasia.
- Download a copy of the CMVH annual exam for senior pets form to bring to your older pet's next appointment.